2015 has been a year of two very different halves for us; the first spent in Asia, the second in America and the UK. We lived in Vietnam’s crazy capital city, Hanoi, where we saved over £14,000 (and nearly lost our minds!) by teaching English. We relaxed on beaches in Thailand, house sat in London, toured South Wales and took the best road trip ever through New England in the USA. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas in Blighty for the first time in nearly three years, here’s our 2015 travel round-up.
Ever tried using Airbnb? The website has become our go-to choice for booking travel accommodation these days and we used it exclusively during our trip to the USA. Airbnb has saved us tons of cash, allowed us to stay in some beautiful places and meet some amazing people. Unfortunately, we’ve also had some less comfortable experiences with Airbnb, from freezing cabins in the woods to last-minute cancellations and the worst of the worst: bedbugs.
After travelling in Asia and North America for the past two and a half years, we’re excited to be spending 2016 in Europe. We booked cheap flights through to Spain for January and a we have month’s car hire lined up; our plan is to spend a few weeks exploring the country and decide where we want to settle for a while to earn some money through teaching English again.
Time has been moving at a frightening speed of late, especially since we landed in London and slipped straight back into the frantic pace of life here. This last week has been one furious blur of sightseeing, pounding the glorious streets of the capital and catching up with people. We’ve also seen a different side of the city by exploring with a child in tow and house and cat sitting in an unfamiliar area.
One of the things travel has taught us is that there’s always something new to discover, wherever you are in the world. We now see the UK with fresh eyes, when we visit we make an effort to explore new areas and we appreciate the natural beauty and cultural heritage of our homeland much more than we ever did when we lived here.
I was on a train to meet Andrew in Wales, chatting to the girl next to me, when she asked: “So, where do you live then?” the question had me stumped. After mumbling something about just getting back from Asia and visiting family in the UK I eventually had to admit that I don’t really live anywhere. “I’m just travelling around at the moment,” I replied. I could tell from the bemused look on the girl’s face that she thought I was odd and for a moment I saw my life from a different angle, one where not having a home, job or more than a backpack worth of possessions doesn’t look as amazing as it feels.
The worst thing about our nomadic lifestyle is that we don’t get to see our friends and family very often, but this also means that when we do see them, we make the most of our time together. Currently we’re planning a big trip with Andrew’s family for summer 2016 in Europe, so we’ve been searching for the perfect holiday property for a group of 12 people.
After finally completing the school year in Vietnam we are itching to dive into the excitement and trepidation of travel again; of new places, plans and ideas. In fact, we’ve plunged straight in, fleeing Hanoi by night train on the very day we completed our final classes and now we look forward to months of new adventures. There will be a huge difference in the next stage of our journey though, we’re saying goodbye to the often hellish bus and train trips we’ve been used to in Asia and travelling by rental car through America and Europe instead.
Where were you this time last year? We were in Thailand, relaxing by the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi whilst preparing for our trip to Burma. I’ve written many times about our love for the Land of Smiles and now that the weather has turned cold and wet here in Hanoi I often fantasise about heading back to the warmth of one of our favourite Asian cities: Chiang Mai. We have fond memories of this northern Thai oasis; volunteering at the nearby Elephant Nature Park, hanging out with visiting friends and family and celebrating the New Year’s water festival, Songkran.
2015 is shaping up to be a great year. The first half of it will be spent in Asia working out the last five months of our teaching contracts in Vietnam and then relaxing in Thailand for a month. After that another summer in the UK awaits followed by an autumn of road-tripping through America and a proper British Christmas, our first in two years. After that, my thoughts keep returning to Europe, a continent I’ve lived in almost my whole life but have barely explored.